Robert A. Jones '59 Conference Room
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753
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Open to the Public

Domenic Rubin
Russia today is home to 20, 000 million native Muslims and 4 million immigrants from mainly Muslim Central Asia, who form an indispensable part of Russia’s labor economy. Islam has thus been swept up into Russia’s search for a modern identity, generating tension and paradox along the way. Under Putin Russia gained observer status at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (“the collective voice of the Muslim world”) and the Kremlin has used Russia’s Muslim heritage for diplomatic leverage in the Middle East. On the other hand, there are almost more Russians fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria than any other country in the world, Saudi Arabia included. Within Russia, the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has taken his place as one of the loudest and most influential voices in Russian political discourse. He seems to be presiding over an Islamic theocracy where the reach of the Kremlin looks increasingly tenuous. Closer to Putin, the largest mosque in Europe was completed in 2015 in Moscow, and pro-Kremlin muftis have forged a “Eurasianist” ideology that ties in well with Putinism and was instrumental in making Crimea “ours”. And over in Tatarstan, Muslim intellectuals are combining their native reformist tradition with love for Tolstoy and Lermontov. Dominic Rubin, author of Russia’s Muslim Heartlands: Islam in the Putin era (Hurst 2018) has spent four years travelling round the North Caucasus, Central Asia, and Tatarstan, and discovering the hopes and fears of Muslims in Moscow, St Petersburg and other major cities. In this talk he will unravel some of the unique paradoxes of Russian Islam and offer insight into how Russian Muslims view themselves and their future, caught between their roles as potential allies in the new traditionalist Russia and potential traitors in the war on terror.

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